The way we see it, 2020 isn’t just the start of a new year, it’s a new decade. A new decade with wide-eyed optimism and perfect vision (get it?). So fittingly, our first WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE YouTube mix of the year is BIG in scope.
Consider all the countries represented. We’ve got Brazil. Germany. France. Japan. Great Britain (of course) and the old reliable U.S. of A. We’ve got dubbed out covers of 60s pop favorites, gleaming synth soundtracks from your favorite gay porno, French punk, German punk and British punk, and then something unbelievably wonderfully delectable from Japan.
As this mix illustrates, it’s a great big wide world out there of off-kilter music, and we’re just skimming the very tippy top. It goes without saying that WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE DJ Rick Taylor and guest DJ Ahmad Zaghal want you to start this new bold era with an equally bold 10-track YouTube soundtrack. Happy listening!
Five selections from WFTBO DJ Rick Taylor…
Anika — “Terry” (2010, Stones Throw Records)
Rick: When Anika’s self-titled debut album was released in 2010, it seemed to come out of nowhere. How did a Berlin-based political journalist/chanteuse end up working with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and his Beak> bandmates to make a record of dub-infected, post-punky covers of 60s pop and folk tunes? When the results are as stunning as “Terry,” ours is not to reason why, but simply revel in its afterglow.
Patrick Crowley — “Somebody to Love Tonight” (1979/2015, Dark Entries)
Rick: Sadly underappreciated during his heyday, the late and truly great Patrick Cowley produced gleaming, left-of-center synth soundtracks for gay porn films, which have thankfully been collected and released all these years later by Dark Entries. Patrick Cowley was equally enamored with experimental classical composers like Christian Wolff as he was with early Moog masters Wendy Carlos and Tangerine Dream, and disco goddess Donna Summer. “Somebody to Love Tonight” captures all these disparate influences and yet somehow feels like something larger.
Lizzy Mercier Descloux – “Fire” (1979, ZE Records)
Rick: Lizzy Mercier Descloux was a FORCE OF NATURE. Lizzy lived to make art — she not only wrote music and sang, but acted, painted and was a writer. She was instrumental in lighting the punk “fire” in France, but her connections with the NYC late ’70s no wave scene were undeniable (her partner was Michael Esteban, who co-founded the legendary ZE Records label). “Fire” electrifies with its perfect frisson of discordant DIY restlessness and driving dance grooves. Do yourself a favor and check out her reissues via Light in the Attic.
Saada Bonaire — “More Women” (1984/2013, EMI Electrola)
Rick: Saâda Bonaire has a fascinating story. This German band was the concept of Ralph “Von” Richtoven, a Bremen club DJ who seemed to fancy himself Germany’s answer to Malcolm McLaren. He brought together two female vocalists — his fiance Stefanie Lange, and her friend Claudia Hossfeld — both non-musicians, a German reggae band he managed, along with some Kurdish folk musicians he invited to play along. Somehow, the band managed to get signed to EMI and release a single in 1984 that was produced by Dennis Bovell in Kraftwerk’s Cologne Studios. Pretty amazing, huh? Thanks to a valiant reissue courtesy of Captured Tracks, we now know the group recorded over an album’s worth of material with Bovell that was never released, including the amazing “More Women.”
Haruomi Hosono — “Sports Men” (1982, Yen Records)
Rick: Thanks to my friend Alex Glendening of Deadbeat Beat, I have a new obsession: 80s Japanese electro pop. But not just any Japanese electro pop, mind you. I’m talking about the arty oddball creations and colorful production work of Yellow Magic Orchestra co-founder Haruomi Hosono. “Sports Men” is taken from his 1982 album, “Philharmony,” which has been described as his most boundary-pushing effort. High praise given that Hosono is regarded as one of Japan’s most influential pop musicians and producers. I love how insanely catchy and weird this is!
Five selections from WFTBO guest DJ Ahmad Zaghal…
Can — “Spray” (1973, United Artists Records)
Ahmad: The classic Can line-up doing what they do best!
Life Without Buildings — “Young Offenders” (2001, Tugboat Records)
Ahmad: I could have gone with any track on this perfect record and can’t help but wonder what more they could have given us if they stuck around for more than just this one and the live album.
Rakta – “Flor Da Pele” (2019, Iron Lung Records)
Ahmad: One of my favs of last year. A goth/psych hybrid from Brazil that I’m honestly finding hard to describe precisely.
Oppenheimer Analysis – “The Devil’s Dancers” (1982/2005, Minimal Wave)
Ahmad: There are tracks I think encapsulate the We Fought the Big One sound and would say that this is one of them.
Scabs – “Leave Me Alone” (1979, Clubland Records)
Ahmad: One of the hundreds of gems brought to us by the Messthetics comps.
Like what you’re hearing? Head over to the Marx Cafe (3203 Mt. Pleasant NW, Washington DC) every first Friday of the month for WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE, DC’s longest-running monthly DJ night. And be on the lookout for a new YouTube mix of oddball favorites every month!